Alice is a sad, broken character; raised in the care system and losing her mother at a young age. She might be a successful writer, but emotionally she is stuck at the age of ten. She gets involved with Jack, after breaking into his home and getting caught. Jack is just as damaged as Alice. Together their relationship is quite poignant and sad.
This is such a bleak novel, full of misunderstandings and people who can only communicate through sex. I wanted to like Alice more, but after she killed the dog I just couldn't. I found the self harming realistic and it just emphasised how Alice was quite alone and hurting. A lovely dark read, that just has a little bit much too sexual content.
I started reading this book one night when I couldn't sleep. I read it straight through. It was suspenseful and compelling and scary. Alice is a finely wrought, if deeply damaged character. Despite the sometimes horrific subject matter, the writing is wonderful. I look forward to more from this author and I agree with the Kirkus review, excerpted below:
Debut author Dean pens a haunting, intense novel that is at once psychologically compelling and emotionally unsettling. Taut pacing and skilled storytelling support a breathtaking plot and characters that are heartbreaking and horrifying yet somehow still accessible and sympathetic. . . . It's scorching, disturbing, and tragic but well-crafted and impressively written.
.......I found it quite disjointed, wasn't always clear if it was a past memory being described or the present day. Without giving too much away it was quite a sad ending but I understood it. What I didn't understand was what the connection was between Ray (a step-father figure) and Jack, maybe I missed something but the two characters as far as I could see didn't have any connection prior to when Alice "introduced" them? I was expecting them to have been in each others past and was waiting for that to come out and never did.
… but many of the S&M sex scenes - the slap to the face and showing it to her, the buying of an item and embarrassing the seller by letting them know it will be used for sexual purposes, the escalation, the need to escape before he hurts/kills her - are extremely reminiscent of the novel "Nine and A Half Weeks". One does hope that this is all just a series of coincidences...